Raising Children: Which Steps Are We Taking?

By Ron Halbrook

I claim no expert qualifications in raising children, just some training in the school of life. I have not even graduated yet, neither from life nor from raising children. My wife and I are getting our training with three children: ages 18 (Jonathan), 14 (David), and 11 (Deborah). In addition, I taught junior high school for six years, and have been working with families while preaching the gospel of Christ for about 25 years (the six and 25 overlap). Experience and the counsel of successful parents are helpful to us all, but the Bible contains the wisdom of God to guide and direct parents in raising their children. God wrote the ultimate textbook on the subject.

The 12 points listed below are beginning points for study and thought. Another list of ” 12 Steps to Raising a Drug Addict” by an unknown author is provided. Parents who wish to see which way they are leading their children may wish to put a check mark by each step they are taking in each list. Do we need to change the direction of our steps?

1. Pray with the child and teach him to pray at home (Matt. 6:5-15).

2. Teach him the stories and lessons recorded in the Bible at home (2 Tim. 3:15).

3. Take him (don’t just send him) to worship God, assembling with the people of God where the truth of God’s word is publicly taught (Heb. 10:25).

4. Teach him honesty by your example. Be honest in every word and deed, in both family and business matters. Do not steal even small things or lie about work or school absences (Col. 3:9).

5. Work to provide your family’s needs and teach your children that work is a blessing, not a curse. Give him jobs and chores within his ability (Eph. 4:28).

6. Spend time with your wife and children. Do not think that money and material things can substitute for your personal attention and love. Do not spend all extra time on the job, with friends, or in hobbies (Eph. 5:22-6:4).

7. Exercise balanced discipline. Balance firmness with patience. Spank when necessary but without excess or abuse (Prov. 23:13; Col. 3:21).

8. Teach the child respect for authority by praying for civil leaders and by obeying the laws of the land. When he complains of school problems, speak respectfully of school personnel; contact them if needed to seek information and solutions (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

9. Teach your child to love his fellow man by your conduct at home, controlling your temper and weighing your words. Never address the mate who shares your name or the children you brought into the world as dogs or dirt under your feet (Col. 3:18-21).

10. Let your children learn appreciation from your example. Let him learn to say, “Thank you,” and mean it, by hearing you say, “Thank you,” sincerely (Rom. 16:3-4).

11. Be courteous, kind, and considerate as you teach him to be courteous, kind, and considerate. Show him that we have friends by being friendly, being genuinely interested in the welfare of others (Matt. 7:12; Eph. 4:31-32).

12. Teach your child that the Bible is our God-given standard of right and wrong. Immorality, foul speech, dishonesty, temper fits, intoxication (whether by illegal drugs or alcohol), violence, malice, pornography, and any form of irreverence toward God are always wrong. No exceptions! The Bible teaches what is right, good, and true (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). All the principles stated above are rooted in a knowledge of God and the Word of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” and it is our job as parents to provide our children this solid foundation for life (Prov. 1:7). When the child is grown, he may,’ choose to turn from truth and right in spite of the best training, as Adam and Eve sinned after being perfectly taught by God. The book of Proverbs is a veritable handbook for raising wise and godly children, and reminds us that the task is not impossible. In fact, it inspires our efforts by stating a general rule which observation and experience confirm, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

1. From his infancy give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him; this will make him think vulgarity is cute. It will also encourage him to pick up cuter phrases, that will blow off the top of your head later.

3. Never give him any spiritual training, wait until he is 21 and then let him decide for himself.

4. Avoid use of the word wrong. He may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him, and he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up everything he leaves laying around, such as books, shoes, clothing. Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others.

6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.

8. Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own way. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?

9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They all are prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into real trouble apologize for yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him.”

12. Prepare for a life of grief, you will be apt to have it.

If these 12 steps do not produce a drug addict, at least it cannot be said that we did not try. On the whole, these 12 steps are proving to be abundantly successful in producing drop-outs, dead-beats, leeches, and assorted criminals in addition to drug addicts. Because of the provisions of God’s grace, a few have “fallen away” from their evil beginnings and risen above their training. This is in spite of their parents, not because of them.

May we all – parents and children alike – open our hearts to the Word of God.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4).

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 1, pp. 16-17
January 3, 1991